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L. Van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1826) a composer certainly as famous as Mozart. He was born in Bonn. In 1787, at age 17, he visited Vienna—and met Mozart. In 1792, at age 22, he visited Vienna again—a year afterKirchgaessner performed Mozart's new works for the armonica and Mozart's death, and a year after Roellig moved to Vienna. In 1794 Beethoven moved to Vienna and made it his 'base of operations' for the rest of his life—as Mozart had before him.

Unlike Mozart, there is no evidence that Beethoven was interested at all in the glass armonica. Its delicate sound, after all, hardly fits with Beethoven's musical aesthetic.

The Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung for April 1805 1 mentions a Kirchgaessner concert ("her last before her departure for Breslau") and a repetition of a new symphony in D (no. 2) by Beethoven ("performed this time with much greater precision")—both concerts taking place in Vienna.

In 1815 Beethoven was commissioned to write the incidental music (Op.202/WoO 96—click here for the score) for a tragic play written by Friedrich Duncker (the King of Prussia's secretary) called Leonore Prohaska.2 The play "tells the story of a maiden who, disguised as a soldier, fought through the war of liberation." Among the movements for your usual Beethoven orchestra and chorus is a short little "Melodrama" for armonica and narrator—at the point in the play when the heroine Leonore is speaking to her true love from beyond the grave. The narration (written by Duncker) is as follows:

I entwined for you
Two flowers: one for love, and one for constancy.
Alas! All I have for you now are death's flowers!
And yet, from the earth on my tomb
The lily and the rose bloom anew.3

Due to financial problems the production of the play never occurred, so the piece wasn't performed in Beethoven's lifetime.


1col. 432

2 Thayer (1973), 619

3 Du, dem sie gewanden,
es waren dein zwei Blumen für Liebe und Treue.
Jetzt kann ich nur Todtenblumen dir weihn.
Doch wachsen am meinem Leicherstein
Die Lilei und Rose auf's neue.